“What about the One whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?” (John 10:36).
The Gospel of John is unique among the New Testament Gospels. John alone includes events not recorded elsewhere, and he omits events recorded in the three synoptic Gospels. For example, after recounting Jesus’ proclamations as “the gate for the sheep” (10:7, 9) and “the good shepherd” (10:11, 14), John is silent regarding the two-month interval between verses 21 and 22 of chapter ten. During this time Jesus went north to Caesarea Philippi and was transfigured (Matt. 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36).
Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights. Today, we know it as Hanukkah. Held on the 25th of Kislew, the festival celebrates the Jews’ victory over the heathen Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes.
Known for his love of the Greek culture, Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) reigned as King of Syria from 175-164B.C. In 170 B.C. he launched an attack on Jerusalem, achieving a swift, decisive victory by slaughtering more than 80,000 men, women and children. Antiochus attempted to destroy Jewish culture and religion. The Temple was pilfered. Circumcision was outlawed. All known copies of the Law were destroyed. The Temple courts were turned into brothels. Swine were sacrificed to the Greek god, Zeus, on the altar.
Six years after the Syrian conquest, Judas Maccabees led a rebel force that defeated Antiochus in 164 B.C. The day following his victory, he cleansed the Temple. The eight-day Feast of Dedication commemorates this cleansing by priests under the leadership of Judas Maccabees. In Jesus’ day, the Feast reminded the Jewish people of their deliverance from their enemies.
John describes the events of Jesus’ appearance at the Feast of Dedication, less than five months before His crucifixion (John 10:22-39). The setting was Solomon’s porch, a roofed portico covering the southern end of the Temple. Solomon’s porch was always filled with people—Jews and Greeks. The only business permitted was that of the infamous money changers (Matt. 21:12-17). People came there to pray and meditate as they strolled through the multi-columned plaza. Rabbis walked and taught with their disciples. It was not surprising that Jesus was walking on this occasion. As John points out, it was a cold, wintry day (John 10:22).
JESUS DID NOT THINK OF HIMSELF
AS COMING INTO THE WORLD, BUT
RATHER BEING SENT INTO THE
WORLD FOR A SPECIFIC TASK.
The Jewish religious leaders seized this opportunity to ask Jesus the question of the hour—nay, of the ages: “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are Christ, tell us plainly” (10:24). Jesus answered that He had already told them. In addition, two considerations placed His claim above question and beyond doubt.
First, His deeds: “The miracles I do in My Father’s name speak for Me, but you do not believe because You are not My sheep” (10:25-26). Jesus’ miracles fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy” (Isa. 35:5-6).
Second, His words verified His claims. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). Both Greek verbs (listen and follow) are in the present tense, indicating continued action. The eternal security of believers is assured if they are consistent in obeying and following Christ.
Jesus now comes to His supreme claim. For the first time, He makes His claim clear: “I and the Father are one” (10:30). The Jewish leaders again took up stones to stone Him (they had previously done so two months before—see John 8:59). Stoning was the normal punishment for blasphemy. “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death” (Lev. 24 :16).
Since Jesus’ “hour had not yet come,” He used a typical rabbinic tactic. He answered their outrage with Scripture. Jesus responded: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If He called them ‘gods’ to whom the Word of God came … what about the One whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse Me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?” (John 10:34-36).
In quoting Psalm 82:6, “You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High,” Jesus argues that if the Scripture can call human judges “gods,” why should one who gives his whole life and service to God, and who was sent from God, be accused of blasphemy for designating himself “Son of God”?
Jesus’ further defense was another appeal to the value of his miracles as proofs of God ‘s endorsement. God would not endorse a blasphemer.
Jesus claimed two things for Himself (John 10:36). First, He was consecrated (hagiazo—pronounced ha gee-á-tzo) by God to a special task. Second, He had been sent (apostello-pronounced a-po-stél-lo) by God into the world. Jesus did not think of Himself as coming into the world, but rather as being sent into the world for a specific task. His coming was an act of God!
Commissioner William W. Francis is a retired officer. He is also the author of The Stones Cry Out (USA Eastern Territory, 1993) and Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord (Crest Books, 1997), and is a frequent contributor to the War Cry and other Salvation Army publications.